London: The UK-based brother of an Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber was today sentenced to 10 years behind bars for terror offences.
Mohammed Awan was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court here after being found guilty of preparing for terrorist acts and possessing material likely to be useful to a terrorist. The 24-year-old younger brother of Rizwan Awan, an IS suicide bomber who killed 30 people in an attack in Iraq last year, was a fourth-year dentistry student at the University of Sheffield.
“I am completely satisfied that you had intentionally adopted an outwardly innocent and respectable persona with the clear intention that, at some future point, you would be able to perpetrate a terrorist act without being detected,” Judge Paul Watson told him during the sentencing hearing today. He jailed Awan for 10 years and also ordered him to serve three years extended licence on his release, which means he will remain under surveillance at the end of his prison sentence.
Awan was arrested by anti-terror police in June after purchasing 500 ball bearings online. During raids on his family home in Huddersfield and a flat in Sheffield, officers recovered a “significant volume” of extremist material, including advice on how to be a “sleeper cell” in the West. Police also seized 11 mobile phones, 16 USB memory sticks and seven computers.
One memory stick contained a 36-minute video of a senior Al-Qaeda leader calling on young Muslims to join IS and featured graphic footage of how to kill and kidnap victims. The judge noted: “The ideology to which you had so clearly wedded yourself is, to all right-thinking, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive Muslims living in harmony in this country, utterly abhorrent.
“Your romanticised notions of a jihadi struggle involving violence and destruction are far removed from the Islamic faith. You are, in my view, someone who is even now in the grip of idealistic extremism.” Awan had claimed he had bought the ball bearings and a catapult to use for hunting. “Whilst we do not know the full details of Awan’s intentions, officers intervened swiftly before Awan could put any plans into practice,” said Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, head of investigations at Counter Terrorism Policing North East.
During his trial, the jury was told that Awan’s brother Rizwan had travelled from Manchester to Istanbul in May 2015, where he appeared to have joined IS. The court heard that the brothers remained in contact until Rizwan launched an attack on an Iraqi military convoy.